Antananarivo – June 13, 2016 : Colleagues, family members, and friends:
Thank you for gathering here today to mark the raising of the LGBTI Pride Flag. This is the second year in a row that the flag will fly in front of the Embassy, and it is of special significance today.
Today, we grieve yesterday’s brutal murder of dozens of innocent people in Orlando Florida, many who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.
The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub – it is a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.
This was an act of terror and hate. And as Americans and Malagasy gathered here together as members of the U.S. Embassy community, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve.
When President Obama issued his presidential proclamation [marking LGBT Pride Month], he said “Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution. But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities – that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us – and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law”.
One quality Madagascar and the Unites States share is diversity. It is one of the gifts that make our two nations so unique. Let this flag today be a symbol of our mutual willingness to embrace that diversity, to embrace our resolve, and recognize the strength that comes from it.